Learning about learning management systems with Mindflash | Online Schools Blog

Simplifying learning management with Mindflash

As more education gets transferred online, learning management systems have become an all but essential tool to organize and sort through their learning materials. The problem is that many learning management systems are expensive and cumbersome, leaving the space ripe for someone to come in and simplify the tool.

That is where Mindflash enters the equation. Founded in 1999 as an alternative to the traditional learning management systems, Mindflash has grown in both size and recognition thanks to their easy-to-use corporate training systems and low monthly subscription costs.

Considering that elearning is still growing rapidly and that Mindflash occupies an important place in the elearning ecosystem, we thought it would be pertinent to catch up with the folks at Mindflash and pick their brain on learning management systems, the future of elearning, and the secondary market for courseware.

Luckily, Vice President of Marketing Dan Silmore was up to the task. Enjoy!  

When was Mindflash founded and by whom?

Mindflash was founded in 1999 by Valerio De Angelis, a PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

What triggered the idea of digital and remote training for the founder(s)?

Mindflash was created for the purpose of offering a simplified web-based alternative to the traditional enterprise-based Learning Management System (LMS). A full-blown LMS can be very expensive and require IT resources to implement, customize, maintain and upgrade over time.

The company launched one of the first SaaS corporate training systems of its time, called Coursehost. Since then two more versions have been released including the most recent launch in October 2010.

Mindflash is entirely web-based with monthly low-cost subscription plans based on trainee group size.  There is no software to install, no future upgrades to download and no need for IT support.

What have been some of your biggest clients and what was their feedback on the Mindflash training platform?

Thousands of companies have trusted Mindflash for their online training needs, and they range in size from small businesses to large corporates like Autodesk, VeriFone and Breckenridge Ski Resort. We drive our product development and feature enhancements based on customer feedback. 

While we always strive to be better, we are fortunate that most of our customers report that Mindflash is very simple and saves them time and money.  They have the flexibility of using all popular file types and can have a course up-and-running within minutes.  

Here’s a direct quote from Johnson Health Technology:

“With sales reps in 18 countries, getting everyone up to speed was next to impossible. Mindflash makes it incredibly easy for us to train all of our employees online, and I would estimate it has saved us over $200,000 this year alone.”

Jocelyn Vande Vende
Director of Education and Sales Training
Johnson Health Technology

Is the Mindflash training platform easily scalable?  Meaning, how difficult is it for management to implement the platform from a small company of 10 to a large company of 10,000?

As I mentioned, we’ve had thousands of companies of all sizes using Mindflash for their online training needs. Many start out on smaller plans and then upgrade with us as their training programs grow in size. 

Trainers can upload their trainee lists from excel and then have full control over who is active in our system, and who is not at any given time.  All of our plans allow them to easily archive trainees so that they can add new ones and manage the total.

What are some key features and tools that you think make the Mindflash LMS unique?

Simplicity and ease-of-use are absolutely a key differentiator for us. We want to be the easiest option available for our customers and that makes us unique. From a technical standpoint, our system’s ability to import PowerPoint is also unique.

We find that PowerPoint is the dominant content type used by our customers, and we’re the only system I’m aware of that converts and maintains all fonts, animation, audio and video directly into an online course.

Mindflash also lets the user have an opportunity to offer their course training for sale to other users all over the world.  Could you go into more detail about how one might transition their internal courseware to an external digital good?

I’m glad you brought up the ability to sell courses. That was the most highly requested feature by our customers last year, so we built and launched that functionality in September. There are a few use cases. There are customers who have a monthly training plan with us that they use for internal or external training, at no cost to the trainee.

They might also want the ability to sell, so they can easily copy those existing training courses directly into the selling module of our site, set a price and offer them to the public. We also have customers who come to us only for the purpose of selling courses. Those customers don’t have to pay for a training plan, and don’t pay any sort of listing fee, merchant account fee or other fee. They share 15% of any revenue generated with us, only when a course is sold.

How big has this secondary market for courseware gotten lately?  Roughly how many sellers and training solutions are currently available on the Mindflash network?

The ability to sell courses is still relatively new for us, and we don’t publish numbers for it. I can tell you that it is growing rapidly and that our 15% commission structure is the least expensive among all of our known competitors.

Are there certain measures that Mindflash takes to ensure that the courseware a private seller offers is legitimate and accurate training for other users to purchase?

Our sellers are bound to our Terms of Use, which stipulates that their content is owned by them and that they have the right to re-sell it.

With more and more advanced technology taking the world by storm, how much of a change in the climate of e-learning and online training will we see in the next 5-10 years? 

Most studies show, and we strongly agree, that e-learning will continue to grow substantially. Reduced learning time and expense, along with real-time tracking and reporting will continue to spread.

It is also clear that personal devices (smart phones and tablets) will take over from laptops and desktops as the main and preferred interface for online learning. Live in-person training will always have certain benefits, and blended training is going to be a major growth area combining the fun and interactive dynamic of the classroom with the convenience and effectiveness of e-learning.

How does Mindflash fit into this growth and trajectory?

Mindflash is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the growth of the e-learning space and the broader trend of businesses using cloud-based software for most of their software needs. And, our mobile and tablet-supported efforts will be launching later this year.

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